THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED GLOBAL WARMING

per Carla Escolà Costa,

The morning of August 23, 1856, saw hundreds of men of science, inventors and curious persons gathered in Albany, New York, for the Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest attended to date. The annual meetings of the AAAS brought together scientists from around the United States to share groundbreaking new discoveries, discuss advancements in their fields and explore new areas of investigation. Yet this particular meeting failed to deliver any papers of quality—with one notable exception.

That exception was a paper entitled “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays,” by Eunice Foote. In two brisk pages, Foote’s paper anticipated the revolution in climate science by experimentally demonstrating the effects of the sun on certain gases and theorizing how those gases would interact with Earth’s atmosphere for the first time. In a column of the September 1856 issue of Scientific American titled “Scientific Ladies,” Foote is praised for supporting her opinions with “practical experiments.” The writers noted: “this we are happy to say has been done by a lady.”


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